Sometimes you go for a walk for exercise, and sometimes you go for a walk just to discover. This weekend we had a clear sky and a full moon, so I decided to get out into the desert for an evening of discovery, and I was rewarded with beauty. The afternoon was clear, sunny and cool (as deserts go), so I decided to visit a site where I have been before, but never spent much time there…a paleo-indian shelter cave that is within the boundaries of Big Bend National Park, but not marked for the public, and has no trails to follow. I was tipped off to its existence by a park ranger a few years ago, and the first time I visited the caves I found a shell bead from a necklace which was both beautiful and extraordinary in detail. After photographing it, I replaced it for others to discover as I had. Now I was looking for new discoveries.
From a distance the site looks like nothing more than another fault in the rocks, but it’s a shelter that was used by many peoples for many years:
Along the way, the magnificent bloom of this spring continues in the cactus, showing off all their glory:
Once up at shelter level, it’s easy to spot the soot on the ceiling of the shelter, left by many, many fires that were used for cooking and warmth:
Among the nearby rocks are found holes used to grind grain and seeds in providing food, meaning these shelter caves were inhabited and not just used for hunting outposts. In earlier times, the dry creekbed nearby probably ran with dependable water.
Many scars in the rocks in the cave show what is possible sharpening of metal tools or weapons:
I have found artifacts here before, and this time was no exception…a piece of flint (a color and material that does not occur in this area), that indicates trade with groups from other regions. This one shows signs of knapping, or shaping and sharpening by antler bone, and discarded for some reason. This piece measures about 2 inches in length. It remains in the cave for others to find:
One of my friends who shared this afternoon with me:
I can’t help but wonder what the men and women were like who called this place home so many centuries ago:
Next, I shouldered my pack and headed out to the hoodoos nearby. The hoodoo called the “Taj Mahal” by some is my goal for the evening:
My campsite for the evening in a beautiful, secluded area among the hoodoos:
As night falls, the moon makes a spectacular showing:
This morning, a warm and soft sunrise was a spectacular opening for the climax to a simple, yet magnificent, walk across the desert.